How much are you investing in your employees? In today’s globalized, digitalized 24/7-connected work world, we now have more tools and resources available than ever before. Increased mobility and flexibility are redefining work environments. Yet despite this, major consulting firms are telling us that most US employees are not actively engaged at work. A report published by Gallup Research states that 70 percent of US workers are either not engaged or actively disengaged at work. Even Deloitte’s Human Capital Trends global study recognize that companies are struggling with employee engagement. The US has a tremendous problem with disengaged employees.
What is the hidden cost of a disengaged employee? A recent Gallup poll concludes it ultimately costs the nation between $450 billion to $550 billion per year in lost productivity. According to a 2015 CareerBuilder study, 69 percent of employers have been negatively affected by a bad hire over the last year. The results of a disengaged workforce can include high attrition, absenteeism, workplace accidents, increased health care costs, among other costly affects.The true cost is the negative effect on your brand, culture, your clients as well as your reputation.
Redefining engagement to become a more integrated and holistic component of business strategy beyond what is considered a standardized annual HR measure or performance review is key to making significant changes of improvement. It is not enough anymore for employees to merely be “engaged” at work; we want them to be fully committed and passionate about what they do and how they do it.
Gallup describes engaged employees to be those who work with passion and feel a profound connection to their employer. They drive innovation and feel a sense of purpose in their work. Engaged employees show initiative and voluntarily invest more time and effort to contribute to the success of the company. The goal should essentially be to develop a workspace that is more fulfilling, exciting, meaningful and supportive.
Organizations with strong employee engagement have figured out a way to create a culture that fosters engaged employees. Companies that typically place great value on peer-to-peer recognition, open door policies, innovation and a collaborative work environment set a foundation for high employee engagement. Strong, stable leadership, as well as a clear, well-communicated vision statement of the company, are also important traits of cultures that foster engagement. Furthermore, as today’s work world has changed over the years, so have employees’ motivations. Workers today have a new focus on purpose, mission and work-life integration.
Thus, it has become more important for companies to promote flexibility, empowerment, development and mobility. Other companies, such as Google, have created an environment for employees to thrive that is not just limited to free gourmet food and on-site laundry service. The software giant has been consistently ranked a great place to work for thinking outside the box in this aspect, ultimately implementing an engagement practice that is powered by understanding the drives that are most meaningful to employees.
Whichever of the many strategies and methods available today companies decide to embody, as long as they are primarily focusing on driving engagement through a great corporate culture, they will be able to improve execution, retention and financial performance.
For engagement initiatives to be successful, they should be tailored to the unique motivations and needs of each employee. Engaged employees believe that the work they are doing is important and has value. They believe to be contributing to something meaningful and are proud in the results of their efforts. It is important for employers to take time to recognize their accomplishments and be rewarded.
To keep talented and loyal employees engaged, provide diverse opportunities for growth. By giving them access to valuable resourcing such as classes, workshops, trainings and conferences, employers can provide them with a variety of learning opportunities. And while not every company is in a position to afford large bonuses or raises to keep employees engaged, there are many budget-friendly solutions that can help make a positive difference.
Just by focusing more on leadership, coaching and performance management employees will recognize the company’s dedication and investment to their workers’ professional advancement and development. Reinforcing the importance of a coaching and feedback culture and teaching leaders how to be authentic and transparent will also show the company’s commitment to growth at all levels and more importantly, show employees there is a future for them. There is nothing more valuable than a highly engaged workforce.
The thought of achieving a highly engaged workforce may seem elusive to some employers. Perhaps that is because we need to rethink our definition of what employee engagement truly means in our workforce today. Sure, employers can promote creative engagement programs, improve their work culture and tailor engagement initiatives to the unique aspirations and motivations of each employee. But this does not take away from the fact that our problem with disengaged employee may exist because too many organizations are viewing their employees as tools of productivity rather than as human beings, as stated by Neil Morrison, HR director for Penguin Random House UK and International. We must remind ourselves that we are in a business driven by people. We need to treat them well, listen to them and give them plenty of room to grow. This alone can make a great difference.
Jasmine is a recruitment consultant at WilsonHCG. Prior to joining the company, she worked in agency and RPO recruiting. She has experience recruiting for several industries, including IT, telecommunications and finance. Jasmine received her B.A. in psychology with a specialization in industrial-organizational psychology from the University of South Florida and graduated with Magna Cum Laude honors. Jasmine was born and raised in Germany and, in her spare, time enjoys spending time with family and friends.